Teacher Makes Adorably Inclusive Toys to Help Her Deaf Students Feel Represented
A preschool and kindergarten teacher from California couldn't find dolls that resembled her students with hearing devices, so she made them herself.
When it comes to kids' toys being more inclusive, there's always room for improvement. A preschool and kindergarten teacher from Watsonville, California named Genesis Politron, who works with deaf and hard of hearing students, knows this firsthand, and so she took matters into her own hands.
After Politron went shopping for toys for her class and noticed there weren't any dolls that looked like her students who have hearing devices, she bought baby dolls and made her own hearing aids and cochlear implants for them. She even stepped up their stylish factor by using fabric paint and glitter.
"I thought of all of the times that I played with my own dolls as a little girl, and how I'd always reach for the doll that I identified most with. I wanted my students to have the same opportunity, and to be represented in the toys that they play with," Politron told CNN. "No child should ever feel as if they aren't 'normal' or as if they don't belong. I wanted to allow my students to see themselves in toys for once, to feel accepted."
The dolls were a hit with her students. Politron explained to CNN that the kids who have cochlear implants tend to reach for the doll that resembles them. Same for the kids who have hearing aids. "It's so exciting to watch their interactions with them, and watch as they identify with the doll that resembles them," she said. "Now, I watch as they feed their babies every day, and 'rock them to sleep,' and it's the sweetest sight!"
Politron originally shared her handiwork with the world on Twitter, posting two photos of the dolls—one with a cochlear implant, the other with a hearing aid. The educator tweeted, "I teach preschool and kindergarten for deaf/hard of hearing kids, and my students never see toys that resemble their hearing devices...so I added some to our new baby dolls on my own. I wish everyone could see their faces playing with these."
The tweet has since been liked more than 159K times and shared nearly 31K times.
"I'm glad that so many people have realized the lack of inclusion when it comes to toys. I hope those that it has reached take the initiative to learn some sign language," Politron told the cable news outlet. "Children's minds are extremely malleable, and I believe it's our jobs as adults to mold them into empowered, confident, and most importantly happy little people as best as we can."